Ruby Tuesday CEO, president resigns

The CEO and board chair of dining chain Ruby Tuesday stepped down Tuesday, prompting the company board to appoint a director as interim leader.

The Maryville-based restaurateur carried an announcement Tuesday of the management change on its website.

James J. "JJ" Buettgen had led the company as president since December 2012 after a long stint with Florida-based Darden Restaurants.

F. Lane Cardwell Jr., former president of P.F. Chang's and current president of Cardwell Hospitality Advisory, takes over on an interim basis, according to the announcement.

The move comes a month after Ruby Tuesday announced it was closing 95 restaurants including several in the Knoxville area. Buettgen at the time cited low performance as  a leading reason for shuttering the restaurants.

Among those closed: a high-profile store on Broadway in Fountain City.

In June, Ruby Tuesday sold all the restaurants in its offshoot Lime Fresh Mexican Grill.

Ruby Tuesday board Chairman Stephen Sadove said in a prepared statement: "We would like to thank JJ for his dedicated service to Ruby Tuesday. During his leadership, JJ built a strong team, improved the health of the organization, and positioned the company to execute against its Fresh Start initiatives including the recent completion of the asset rationalization program."

Buettgen also was at the helm last year when the company chose to move executive managers to the Orlando area.

Ruby Tuesday's annual shareholders meeting is Oct. 5.

The board of directors has hired Heidrick & Struggles to find a replacement for Buettgen.

In other management moves, Sue Briley has been appointed CFO after serving several months as interim CFO.

Cardwell has been a company director since October 2012.

Buettgen became chairman of the board in 2013, according to the chain. He worked in various posts with Darden from 2007 to 2012. He's also worked in executive positions for Brinker International, Inc.; Disneyland Resorts; and Hollywood Entertainment Group.


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